Stewart Seidenstricker, 5th generation farmer, pulls a rice plant from the soil next to the flexible collapsible plastic pipe of a multiple inlet side irrigation system that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helped implementation at Seidenstricker Farms, owned by Robert and Cathy Seidenstricker, in De Valls Bluff, AR, on June 25, 2019.
Stewart splits a shoot to show that these plants are beginning to form the special stalk that forms the seed grains. This irrigation system does not use traditional metal pipes that are labor-intensive, the plastic pipe is easy to install, just roll it out and connect. When tractors need to enter the field for harvest, the pipes are rolled up and recycled at the end of each season. Water runs along one side of the field, then evenly travels perpendicularly along the rows, and into a parallel field ditch that feeds a tailwater recovery pond. The sediment then settles before being pumped back to the reservoir. The reservoir is formed by four tall embankments that hold 400 ac-ft of irrigation water, part of a conservation plan that includes multiple inlet side irrigation, and tailwater recovery ditches to water rice, soybeans, and corn. The system is able to reuse the water 22 times before being released. There were two little-used structures where the reservoir is, but it was determined to be more cost-efficient to be demolished and use as an irrigation reservoir. Resource conservation system can include irrigation reservoirs to achieve one or more of the following: Store water to provide a reliable irrigation water supply or regulate available irrigation flows; improve water use efficiency on irrigated land; provide storage for tailwater recovery and reuse; provide irrigation runoff retention time to increase breakdown of chemical contaminants; reduce energy consumption. The Seidenstrickers work with NRCS District Conservationist Gwen Hancock, State Irrigation Engineer Charlotte Bowie, and Civil Engineering Technician Shane Harrison on their conservation plan which include program efforts that also include underground pipelines, grade stabilization structures, water control structures, tailwater recovery ditches, multiple inlet side irrigation, moisture sensors weather stations, and pumping plants. NRCS has a proud history of supporting America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. For more than 80 years, we have helped people make investments in their operations and local communities to keep working lands working, boost rural economies, increase the competitiveness of American agriculture, and improve the quality of our air, water, soil, and habitat. As the USDA’s primary private lands conservation agency, we generate, manage, and share the data, technology, and standards that enable partners and policymakers to make decisions informed by objective, reliable science. And through one-on-one, personalized advice, we work voluntarily with producers and communities to find the best solutions to meet their unique conservation and business goals. By doing so, we help ensure the health of our natural resources and the long-term sustainability of American agriculture. Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) is the Department’s focal point for the nation’s farmers and ranchers and other stewards of private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest lands. FPAC agencies implement programs designed to mitigate the significant risks of farming through crop insurance services, conservation programs, and technical assistance, and commodity, lending, and disaster programs. The agencies and service supporting FPAC are Farm Service Agency (FSA), NRCS, and Risk Management Agency (RMA). For more information please see www.usda.gov. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung. . Original public domain image from Flickr